Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Its 7:30 and I feel like a zombie that's just been unraveled and placed in the sun. I just want to crawl back in my tomb and SLEEP! My grandma has been living with me one week and 1 day. She goes to bed at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and is ready to get up before the sun has a chance to yawn. I usually don't go to bed before midnight. NOT because I don't TRY! But since I can't do ANYTYHING productive until after I get my little angels to SLEEP, it's usually midnight before I crawl into my bed. I have a baby monitor in my bedroom so I can hear my Grandma call me. She has to pee four to six times a night. Since she can't walk at all by herself, I get up and help her. And then my kids usually wake up several times. EACH. And Charkley has to pee, too. AND then scratches at the door until I let him back in. So my sleep is in the negative amounts right now.

That being said, having my Grandma living with me is not NEARLY as strenuous as I THOUGHT it would be. It's been an amazing learning experience. For example, I can do things I never thought possible. Where I usually gag and throw up at the mildest of NASTY, I've dumped potty chairs, scrubbed false teeth, and pulled down and up panties. I attribute it to the LOVE thing because I don't think I could hold just any person's teeth in my hands. But, somehow, I just want to do ANYTHING to make my Grandma feel comfortable and welcome in my home because I love her.

There have been a few sacrifices. Starling has to watch the television on a barely audible volume because the tv detracts from my Grandma's sleeping comfort, the sleep loss thing, and of course underwear is a MUST. NO more running around in towels because ya never know who you'll bump into when exiting the bathroom.

But there have been some awesome blessings. Brooklyn announced, "Grandma Rosie is my BEST friend!" She absolutely LOVES to dance and sing and play with my Grandma. Brighton is equally enthralled by my Grandma's presence, especially her nifty wheel chair that he keeps climbing and getting ouchies. The best thing is, she isn't rushing off to do laundry or dishes or vaccuum like ME, so they have her undivided attention. When I don't stop to watch, I can get more done around the house with her here because the kids are glued to her. The kids are ALSO loving getting to know my aunts and uncle. I've always considered my mom's family pretty close, but we've grown apart over the years as our families have increased in number. BUT NOW as they are in and out of our home helping with Grandma, Brooklyn knows them all very well and LOVES them! We've shared plenty of laughs and lots of love. We've also learned to band together when the going gets tough. LIKE NEXT week.. when my grandma has random therapy four days a week. Some therapy is back to back... some in the morning and again late afternoon... We are juggling our kids to each other trying to free up one person to take Grandma to therapy and another person to take care of all the paper work to get her into the Windham house so she can get daily therapy. My kiddos are really excited to get to know their cousins who've they've spent more time with in the last week than... EVER.

Anyway- we're doing PU-RETTY good, which lots of people DID NOT think I would be. So far I've only had to pick my grandma off the floor like... hmmm... four or five times? Well, actually Starling picked her up all those times... She only weighs 120 but I only weigh 110 and all those nights in the gym STILL haven't equipped me to pick up fallen grannies. And my granmda would NOT have fallen ANY of those times if she wasn't such a stubborn GO GETTER woman! lol. She'll get going good and decide she'll try to do something herself like HOP on her bed. Now, ONCE it wasn't her fault. Brooklyn asked, "Can I help?" When I was putting my Grandma in to her bed. My grandma said, "Sure, Brooklyn. Hold on to my wheelchair." And Brooklyn did. With one hand. With the OTHER hand she planted a solid handprint on my Grandma's bum and shouted, "Go, Grandma! Go!" And pushed her on towards the bed. The combination of startling force mixed with a burst of the giggles left my grandma and me on the bedroom floor. Brooklyn ran to Starling who was working on the other end of the house. We heard her shouting, "Daddy! Daddy! Help! Grandma Rosie's fallen and she can't get up! Come QUICK!" It wasn't so much as a fall as a slow motion body-lean that eventually made contact with the floor. And once she decided to go pee by HERSELF, at which she actually DID succeed. (Go GRANDMA! GO!) Then, with all her spunk, tried to jump back into the bed and failed miserably. I came in to find her sprawled out on the floor. Luckily, "muscle man," (yes... that is what my Grandma calls Starling), was there to scoop her up and plop her back in the bed.

My grandma is a fun person... even wheelchair bound... she's spunky, cheerful, and full of good humor. I was afraid it would dwindle after the boring set in on her (as she is used to running after chickens and other varments and gardening and garage selling and volunteering)... but she's intense on doing her therapy and insists she'll be able to get her left side to kick into gear soon. And she's doing great! Plus Brooklyn does NOT shut up. EVER. My grandma said its like reliving having me as a two year old all over again. I suppose we are similar in a FEW ways... and Brighton never stops giggling... so between the two of them one is hard pressed to get "bored."

Yesterday my aunt took my gram to therapy and my mom took my kids so I had a day to myself. I didn't know what to DO with myself! I ran errands. I went to Sam's and Target. BY MYSELF. It was equivalent to a week on a remote island soaking up sun rays and drinking fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. It was a blessing indeed. But it was great when the whole family returned, too. I'm really getting used to the hussle and bussle of people in my house all of the time. At first it was overwhelming, but its growing on me. I look forward to seeing my cousin walk through my front door or my aunts or uncle. Its- I can't exactly put words to it- comfortable, comforting... GREAt?! I sort of feel like I have the kind of GIANT family I always wished my parents wouldv'e created when I was a kid. Instead of stopping with just two kids. AND- it totally reaffirms my need to have at LEAST five kids! And then adopt like a cuzillion because, lets face it, with family- the MORE really IS the MERRIER! (And YES, even the families filled with drama-drama and hullagan members). And I thought I might start doubting the Foster Care Plan after experiencing a third "child" per say, but I honestly believe I was supposed to experience this FIRST, "WE", Starling and I- the kids, my FAMILY, was supposed to experience this first... Its made us re-evaluate what's important, get back to the family essentials, re-learn the JOYS of being part of a family filled with sacrifice and free giving. I'm kind of THRILLED to start foster caring... more than I was before... I know I can do it. I know Starling can do it. And the kids... they can do it, too. So for now, we'll keep fostering our sweet, little 71 year old. I now know the hardest part of fostering will be letting go. Brooklyn has already told me she wants Grandma Rosie to live with us FOR-EVER! "I don't WANT her to go to HER house!" Its awesome. God is GREAT!! I feel like He's mentally and emotionally aged me about 38 years. AND maybe aged me a bit physically, too. I may have gray hairs popping up by the end of the month... but scientists are good, too. They invented hair dye. And their is an endless selction of browns to choose from.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Whirl baby Whirl

Dear Blog,

I know it must seem that I’ve fallen off planet Earth… and, truth be told, it kind of feels that way. Actually it feels more like I’ve been swept up into a tornado and my world is just whirling around me and I can’t seem to get my footing back before being swept up again in some NEW disaster. But hey! If the world didn't suck we'd all fall off.

Ha… I sound so melodramatic! (and we ALL know that I am NOT dramatic (unless of course we’ve MET)). Anyway- a TON of drama has gone down in the last month. I don’t know when I last wrote, but I certainly never anticipated all the new life changes. I suppose one never does. A new dent in the car? Burned dinner? A sick kid? Expected. Speeding ticket? Bout' due for one. But, no one prepares for certain things.

December was a JOYFUL month… preparatory for a GLORIOUS Christmas. I, of course, wanted to get in the Christmas spirit and volunteered for any and EVERYthing relating to service and/or Christmas celebration. After all, life was GOOD, FABULOUS, and I just have two babies… and ALL the time in the world! (In between diapers, Putting away the SAME toys fifteen times a day, and wiping the sAME spot on the counter three to six times a day).

So I readied myself and went to choir practice, joined the Nativity Committee, RSVP’d to several Christmas parties… and I got to work! Oh, sure, I resembled BOZO the clown trying to perform a juggling act, but I was holding my own and not the least bit stressed! I got my Christmas stuff out late, but I can't get it up after Halloween EVERY YEAR. Starling and I sang at a Laurel’s Christmas Party (his DARLING father volunteered us, of course), I made calls to collect Nativities, and then we went to a Christmas party. We had a joyful time at all the events. That was as of December 13. Hey. Maybe there is truth to the number 13 being unlucky.

ANYWAY- on our ride home from our Christmas party, I got a call. Granted it was 10:30 p.m. and I wondered why on earth my cousin was calling so late. I was informed my Grandma Rosie was on her way to the hospital via ambulance; she’d suffered a stroke.

WELL- you have to know my Grandma Rosie to truly appreciate the horror of the situation. I all but lived with my Grandma most of my childhood. She has been a widow for some 24 years and hasn’t missed having a man at ALL. JUST ask her. We all find great joy in teasing her about remarrying. “I don’t NEED a MAN!” No. The only males she likes having around is her roosters and the occasional dropped off cat. UNLESS the cat chases her chickens, in which case she pulls out her rifle, and shoots it dead between the eyes. AND unless her Rooster jumps on a hen in which case she lays his head over a tree stump and chops it off with an ax. She’s THAT kind of Grandma. One day she is in the yard chopping wood for her wood heater. The next she’s laying on the bathroom floor unable to get up.

I went to the hospital that night and saw with my own eyes that she was alive and still in good spirits. The left side of her body was paralyzed but her mind was still sharp as a tack. My aunt stayed the first night with her. I went to the hospital and stayed the second night accompanied by Brighton. (Future reference- babies really don’t LOVE hospitals. BUT what to do with your infant who will NOT drink out of a bottle??) I got up early, got picked up by my brother, and got my wisdom teeth removed. I would have waited on that if my whole head wasn’t throbbing from my bottom left wisdom tooth. An infection of sorts. AND, I hadn’t taken out my contacts at the hospital since I had to get up with my grandma every hour or so to help her turn or scoot, or move her pillow, put on blanket, take off blanket… AND my left eye was practically swollen shut. I looked like Quasimodo. I force fed Brighton my boob in the waiting room of the Oral Surgeon’s office. He didn’t realize it was his LAST supper for TWENTY four HOURS. (The wait time AFTER surgery). I went in, signed my life away, or at least my yearly income, and listened to Dr. Tims say, “You have beautiful teeth. They are-“ and then I woke up. “I’m done?” I THOUGHT I asked. It sounded more like, “ighgi dohuuunghf?” And then, even though my face was stuffed like a Thanksgiving Turkey, I continued trying to talk through the cotton. But, the doctor and nurses politely ignored me, stuck me in Bradley’s car, and then I woke up at home. I had been prescribed pain pills. I was told I had to wait 24 hours after each pill to breastfeed. In the name of Brighton, I chomped Tylenol instead. I was given a list of things “to do” for my teeth, one being go to bed and REST. But did I mention I had volunteered for EVERYTHING?

The next day was get ready for show time in the Nativity department. So, chipmunk HEAD and all, I went to my church and helped get set up. Starling called me that night and DRUG me away from church to go to Laurel for our family Christmas. I hated leaving so much work for so little people, but family first. We had a fabulous Christmas with the Johnson family. Everyone played Tennis the next day except me. My head wasn’t supposed to bounce around although it did plenty of bouncing because I had to keep up with kids… Kids don’t sit still. Ever. Especially MINE. But it was enjoyable. I just kept chomping down on Tylenol. The next day was Sunday. Show TIME! I went to church, dropped off my fam, then returned with last minute items, lamps and such, and I helped with finishing touches. Our church gym was transformed into a Nativity WONDERLAND. It was absolutely GORGEOUS! Over 450 nativities from all around the world was set up for the community to view. And one of the greatest things? The LIVE nativity! Thanks to some INCREDIBLY talented individuals, the stage looked like the REAL thing… Eric and Steph and Cohen did the first two hours of nativity, then my family replaced them. Brighton was the BIGGEST newborn EVER, but still made a great baby Jesus. A giggling, crawling, baby Jesus. So, I tried to wrap the head thing in such a way to cover the size of my swollen face, but it didn’t work. I saw pictures. I look like a basketball with eyes. Oh well. When I led the music earlier that morning, my friend Lance said, “I kept looking at you and finally turned to Jessie and said, ‘Wendi looks different… Maybe it’s the turtleneck.’” Ugh… if turtlenecks made my head look THAT bad, I’d burn every one of mine in two seconds.

So then MONDAY came and I went to my Grandma’s house to help prepare it for her return. My cousin Shannon and Aunt Brenda were there. We looked around in horror. Where to start. My Grandma saves EVERYTHING. Especially fabric. So, we started loading up my car. LUCKILY we have those storage units on Oak Grove Road. (VERY AFFORDABLE MIGHT I ADD if you are interested in renting one!- we only have a few left!) We carried out things, threw things away, moved things around up until Christmas Eve. Of the things we loaded out? TEN sewing machines. NOT the kind you see at Wal Mart. Ten TABLE sewing machines. We took a break for Christmas and started again the next day. We took a break for New Year’s.

We went with our second family, the Spiers, to their Dad’s camp. What a NICE get away! I’m sure everyone “needed” to get away…. But it was like finding water in a dang desert for ME. There was real FOOD (hot dogs and hamburgers are much more real than mayo on bread with a slice of meat- stuff face- get back to work). There was laughter. (When you see the video of the guys singing their own lyrics to random guitar strumming you'll understand). And how I hated to leave and return to the business of sorting chaos.

New problems arose. We discovered my Grandma had been scammed into some replacement Insurance plan and I had to find out what to do about it. Shannon, my cousin, who is pregnant, has a kid, and is only three years older than me, attempted to help my brain wrap around the situation. Together we went to the Social Worker and finally backed her into a corner into finding out that we needed to cancel her current insurance and get a new one. So, Miss I use a credit card that my husband pays off every month/ doesn't even know what bills we have- ME, set to work calling Medicare while Shannon set to work finding out what all we had to get. It took ALL day but we managed to find out HOW and WHAT to do. By then everything was closed. We did bring the results to my Grandma.

You must KNOW that on the stretcher my Grandma’s parting words to the Ambulance worker was, “You can take me to the hospital but do NOT put me in a nursing home!!”

No one wanted to ASK my grandma if she would be willing to go to a nursing home. We don’t even want to SEND her. BUT, truth be known, she needs therapy and is getting tons of it at the hospital. If she comes home… well… only three people out of 6 kids and 16 grandchildren don’t work during the day. My aunt Brenda. My cousin Shannon. ME. Sooo our confidence in giving her super great care and therapy WHILE beckoning to her every call WHILE taking care of our babies is shaky to say the least. We were told if she skips ANY therapy that it will be detrimental and her progress will be in vain. So, naturally we’ve been trying to find out HOW and WHERE we can get her the MOST therapy. We were assured that she’d get the most at the hospital and that they’d keep her until her insurance denied her. WELL… thinking all was well… we kept focusing on getting her insurance worked out. (It won’t kick in until February 1st). THEN came the call. Insurance won’t pay. She isn’t progressing enough for them to justify keeping her at the hospital. They are sending her home Monday. THIS MONDAY.

Her house isn’t ready. For one, a wheelchair can’t climb the steps, can’t get through the door, can’t get through the bathroom door. She lives in a BLOCK house, not to COMPLICATE things, but one can’t just MOVE blocks around like sheetrock and WOOD. She doesn’t have central heating and air, only a wood stove. We could TRY to make it work… EXCEPT can you IMAGINE trying to build a fire, keep the kids from TOUCHING the wood stove, while pulling my Grandma about? So…

My Grandma is moving in with me on Monday. I have until then to get MY house ready. BUT not really. I have to go get training from the hospital tomorrow AND my cousin and I still have to tour some Swing Beds. (That is a nice way of saying temporary Nursing Home… but it really is temporary…). She can’t go into the Swing Bed until Feb. 1st because her insurance doesn’t start until then. So for 3 to 4 weeks she’ll live with me, THEN, IF she’ll agree, she’ll go stay in the Windham House or Bedford Care, AND THEN we can keep working on her house. Hopefully she’ll eventually be able to live on her own again. That’s probably NOT going to happen, but we are praying for a miracle. She is VERY stubborn so it could happen. AND if she CAN’T live on her own, we’ll have time to close in our Breezeway and make her a decent living space at my house.
Talk about a CRAZY whirl of events. And of course, we are STILL planning to Foster Care. Starling joked that our first foster kid is a 73 year old. And I said this must be preparation. After fostering MISS INDEPENDENT (half paralyzed independence), fostering a youngster will be a BREEEEEZE!!